First off, what the heck is a baby box?
If you want to know the full story, read this, but the short story is that these boxes date back to the 1930’s when Finland’s government gave expectant mothers a cardboard box as a baby starter kit, and the baby could sleep in the box. It cut down on infant mortality rates and even better, mothers had to get prenatal checkups in order to qualify for the boxes. That’s a very shortened version of what the Finnish baby box is all about, but even that was enough to pique our interest.
How in the world did we hear about it?
It started off as a joke. When I was about 5 months pregnant we went to a Seattle Mariners game with Rocketcop, a longtime friend of ours and a dad of two adorable girls, Stella and Mackenzie. We were talking about the fact that we needed to decide on a baby crib, a world that was not only foreign to us, but also overwhelming because of all the options. Jokingly, Rocketcop suggested, “He could just sleep in a cardboard box. That’s what they do in Finland.”
“Really?!?” we asked, all too excited to find an alternative to the traditional crib route.
And so Rocketcop sent us the link to the BBC story above and we were quickly enamored with the idea of Paavo sleeping in a cardboard box.
How did we get it?
We couldn’t buy the government issued baby box from Finland but quickly found alternatives, one company being in Finland and several others in the States. After comparing box contents, we went with the Finnish company, Finnish Baby Box, because it seemed most in line with the government issued box and heck, it really was from Finland!
When we were putting together our baby party (we refused to call it a baby shower; do you think Paavo will have some stubbornness in him?), we decided to buy the box beforehand and have it ready to open for the first time at the party. Instead of having a registry, we asked people at the party to chip in cash for the box so that we had just one big gift to open. It was so fun opening the box and seeing everything for the first time with all our friends around us.
What was inside?
About 50 baby items, which included clothing, bath stuff, and nursing stuff. Here is a list of the items currently in the box, though our contents were a little different. When we ordered it we were asked where we lived and if we knew the sex, or we could choose whether we wanted the “summer” box or the “winter” one, and we could just keep it neutral rather than choosing a sex. We chose to let the Finnish baby box people decide on what season we needed for winter in Seattle and let them know we were having a boy.
I believe the company is constantly tweaking the contents based on feedback, and it looks as though you can now customize the box contents, which I think is wonderful. Our favorite part about all the items were that they were very unique designs, gender neutral colors, and high quality fabrics.
Did Paavo really sleep in it?
Heck yes! He slept in the box from day one all the way through 3 months and we felt completely comfortable with his safety and comfort. He grew so darn fast (6 inches in 3 months!) that by the time he was 3 months old, he only had a few inches to spare in length and could touch the sides of the box very easily, sometimes startling himself in doing so. I would think if he hadn’t grown so tall so fast, the box could have easily lasted another month. Since the box was all he knew, we think he slept great in it. We tried having him sleep in a swinging chair a couple times, but he never liked it and never slept as long in the chair as he did in the box.
We also loved the box for traveling or just moving rooms in the house, as it was so portable to have him sleep anywhere. When we took a trip to Leavenworth for Christmas, we just packed the box with his stuff, popped it in the trunk, and poof!, we were packed.
Did we use everything in it?
I would say we used about 90% of the box and are still using clothing/other items that he’s just now growing into and has yet to grow into. The items we used the least were socks, the balaclava, the sleeping bag, and the outdoor overall, which was a one piece, fleece-lined parka. I think he can still use quite a few of the items for quite some time, like the sleeping bag, the outdoor overall (which was too big for him to start, but will likely fit soon), the duvet and duvet cover. We’re just now using the feeding bib and the drool bib, and I’ve used the bath thermometer, the nail scissors and the bra pads the entire time. Judging by the slight change in the box contents between when we bought it (August 2015) and now, it looks like the company is taking feedback and improving the contents for the best usage from birth through at least the first year.
Would we change anything about it?
If I were to change anything, I’d include instructions on how to use certain items, such as the duvet and the sleeping bag. I emailed the company regarding the usage of these items, considering that babies aren’t supposed to sleep with blankets, and received instructions on how to use the duvet (create a U around the bottom of the box) and the sleeping bag (for outdoor naps in the stroller, a Finnish thing!). I’d also include a swaddle sack like the Halo swaddle sleep sack, as we used that, combined with the box, every time Paavo slept. I think I’d rather have a sleep sack than the outdoor overall.
Would we get it again?
Yes, mainly because it took so much of the planning off our plates. We didn’t have to think about what to buy, and this box, combined with clothing from friends and family, meant that our first time buying clothing for Paavo didn’t happen until just two days ago here in Mexico City, when he was 5 months.
Would we get this exact box again? Not sure. It’s quite pricey and there are alternative companies doing the same thing here in the States. I haven’t looked at the other companies since last summer, but I imagine they too have changed their product based on competition and customer feedback. If there were a company in the States offering nearly the same product for less, I’d likely go with that, but I’d have to do some comparisons again. Part of the novelty in buying the Finnish box was because it was from Finland and had such unique clothing designs, and because we named our son Paavo, a Finnish name.
I’d definitely get this for a gift for someone else (as a group gift), if that person were up for having their baby sleep in the box. It’s a great shower gift from lots of people and makes sure no one gets the same gift.
Final verdict – Yay or nay? How many stars from 0-5?
Yay and 4 out of 5 stars. Very glad we got the baby box, if only for the novelty of it, and also for the fact that it’s from Finland and our son has a Finnish name. Most of all, we loved the ease in choosing one product so we didn’t have to make as many choices among the already dizzying amount of them with regards to babies. We give it 4 out of 5 because the cost does seem a little high, though we never actually tried to price out the box and all its contents. I imagine that more companies may start making such a product and will likely offer lower cost alternatives.
We had many a fun discussion with John & Jackie about “The Baby Box”? It sounds like it was the “perfect fit” (at least for 3 months) not only for Paavo but for you & Matt.
Yes! It was a the perfect fit for us, and like you said it certainly generated a lot of discussion with people. I was a little sad when he moved on from the box to the travel crib we’re using now. – Julie